How to Easily Remove Acrylic Nails & Gel Polish: Top Tips

We’ve all come to believe the myth that acrylics and gels are bad for your natural nails, but that’s just the price to pay for good-looking nails.

This couldn’t be further than the truth! These products are not inherently damaging to the nail plate - that’s what trained manicurists call our nails, by the way. 

What actually damages our nails is improper application and removal. As you should always have your nails done by a professionally-trained nail technician, this blog post will cover how to safely remove acrylic nails and gel nail polish at home when you just can’t make it to the salon for removal.

You may have heard tips such as using dental floss to remove acrylic nails - this is a huge no-no, and if you’ve been peeling off your acrylics, it could be why your nails are so weak and damaged afterwards. Here’s our guide to removing acrylics safely!

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How Does Improper Removal of Acrylics and Gel Polish Damage Nails?

When a product such as UV-activated gel, acrylic powder, or even SNS powder is applied to your nail beds, it fuses with the upper layers of your nails. That’s what makes these products so excellent for extended wear time, especially compared to traditional nail lacquer.

The proper removal method is critical for keeping your nails strong and healthy. Picking off acrylic nails and gel polish is the number one way to guarantee nail damage after acrylics! Here are the standard methods a trained nail technician would use to remove gel polish and acrylics, preventing damage to your natural nails.

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Ways to Remove Acrylics and Gel Polish

Qualified nail technicians have an essential job - other than making your nails look good, of course! When it comes to refreshing your manicure, they’re the experts in safe gel polish removal to ensure that your nails are strong, healthy, and ready for your next manicure. 

When done the right way, both of these techniques should leave your nails healthy and strong - not weak and peeling. Let’s go over the two most common acrylic and gel removal methods.

Filing Acrylic and Gel Off

This technique is one that we think that you should leave to the professionals - trust us. When filing gel polish or acrylics off, your nail tech is trained to do this properly and without damage to your nails. 

They’ll most likely use an e-drill, a fantastic tool in the hands of a trained professional but shouldn’t be used by anyone else. When removing utilising this method, your nail tech will work to remove layers of acrylic and gel without damaging your nails. 

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Soaking Acrylics and Gel Polish Off with Acetone

The other method is soaking with acetone. Acetone breaks down gel and acrylic, making acrylic nails easy to scrape off the nail plate with an orange stick. This technique usually entails using tinfoil or professional soak-off clips that hold acetone-soaked cotton rounds to your nails, ensuring that acetone stays in contact with the nails long enough to start the removal process.

Can I Remove Gel Polish at Home?

Yes, you can remove gel polish at home by soaking it off with acetone. This is the same method you can use to remove acrylics; here’s a step-by-step process to do this safely, protecting your natural nails.

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How to Easily Remove Acrylics and Gel Polish at Home

You’ll need a nail file, an acetone nail polish remover (the non-acetone kind won’t work), orange sticks, cotton rounds, and tinfoil. 

1) Buff The Shiny Surface of Your Nails

Buffing off any shiny top coat makes it easier for acetone to soak your acrylics or gel polish with acetone. All you need to do are just a few swipes until your nail surface is matte and no longer shiny from the top coat. 

2) Soak Nails with Acetone

What makes this process easier is pre-cutting cotton rounds into quarters and tinfoil into squares. After applying the acetone-soaked cotton to nails and wrapping with tinfoil, all you’ll need to do is wait around 15-20 minutes. 

It might be tempting at this point to reach for acetone-free nail polish remover, but this isn’t formulated to work as well against acrylic and gel polish. After all, acrylic and gel are professional-level products and need the right products to remove properly! 

You might also be tempted to skip using tinfoil or soak-off clips; I strongly suggest that you don’t ignore these, as they help prevent the acetone from evaporating away instead of dissolving your gels. 

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3) Gently Scrape Acrylic or Gel with an Orange Stick

After 15-20 minutes, you can check how much of your gels have dissolved away using your orange stick. If it scrapes off easily, move on to the next nail. If it’s still stubbornly attached, put the cotton round, foil back on, and wait for another 10 minutes.

Never force any acrylic or gel off your nails - this pulls off layers of your nail plate, leaving them peeling, thin, and damaged. 

4) Wash & Moisturise Your Hands

After carefully removing acrylic and gel from your nails, it’s essential to wash off the acetone residue. Wash your hands with a nurturing hand wash, or for a more spa-like experience, use a body scrub on your hands to leave them feeling super soft afterwards. 

Follow up with a hand cream to restore moisture to hands and nails - acetone can be very drying - and use cuticle oil on your nails to support healthy growth.

If your nails still feel a little vulnerable, a few coats of nail strengthener and regular cuticle oil massages can help support your nails in between manicures.

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How to Remove Acrylics and Gels at Home: Key Points

The salon-proven technique of soaking off acrylic nails and gels with acetone is the easiest and safest way to remove acrylics from nails. After removal, nails can be replenished and supported with nail care treatments, such as strengtheners and cuticle oil. 

Products Mentioned:

  • Londontown kur Nourishing Cuticle Oil
  • Londontown kur Glass Nail File
  • Londontown Gel Sculpting Base Coat 
  • Londontown Gel Color
  • Londontown kur Restorative Nail Cream
  • Londontown kur Get Well Nail Recovery
  • Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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